The program now know as “Insight Transformational Seminars” (formerly “Insight Training Seminars”) is connected with the New Age organization known as The Movement of spiritual Inner awareness (MSIA, pronounced “messiah”). It was founded by John-Roger Hinkins, who added the name “John” because he believes himself to be the reincarnation of John the Baptist. John-Roger was a student of ECKANKAR, and MSIA is fundamentally the same kind of religion as ECKANKAR. MSIA promises freedom from the wheel of endless reincarnations through “soul transcendence” (ECKANKAR calls it “soul travel”).*
Although MSIA leaders will say that participants in their programs are not required to believe anything or to modify their own religious beliefs, the fact is that MSIA promotes and teaches a philosophy which is completely incompatible with biblical Christianity. MSIA says there are no absolute truths; the Bible teaches that God has spoken specific truths which will stand as true throughout history (Ps. 119:89; Matt. 5:17-18; 24:35; etc.). MSIA says that there are no rights or wrongs, no absolute good or bad; the Bible declares that certain things are right or wrong, good or bad, and condemns those who reject these standards (Is.5:20; Rom. 1:28-32; etc.). MSIA teaches its followers that they are “fine just the way you are” and that they are “already perfect”; the Bible commands all to repent and turn from their wickedness, and states that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the spirit (John 3:3-8; Acts 17:30-31; etc.). MSIA teaches that Jesus was one of many “Travelers,” the latest of whom is John-Roger; the bible teaches that Jesus was the unique incarnation of God in human form (John 1:1-18; Phil. 2:6-8; Col. 1:15-18; etc.). MSIA says that every human being has a Divine Nature; the Bible regards this claim as the lie foisted upon Eve by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5).
It is obvious, then, that MSIA is incompatible with evangelical beliefs, which are based squarely on the Bible alone. The claim of MSIA leaders that adherents can “put Christ wherever they want him in the program” is based on their belief that Christ was simply one of many embodiments of “the Mystical Traveler Consciousness,” and so that one may appeal to that particular “energy line” or not, as one wishes. It is evident, therefore, that MSIA is not speaking at all of the Christ revealed in the Bible. Like all cults (in the theological sense of the term), MSIA uses Christian terminology (God, Christ, Holy Spirit, love faith, etc.) while attaching anti-Christian meanings to those terms.
In conclusion, it is clear that the claim made by the leaders of the Insight Transformational Seminars that they are using only accepted methods of psychological help is a false claim, even if sincere. No doubt they honestly believe, for example, that their program can help reduce juvenile delinquency; perhaps it can. The question, however, is whether the ITS should be allowed to pass themselves off as a religiously-neutral organization. Our answer is an unequivocal No. And for this reason, Christians who wish to be faithful to God’s word and to the true Christ should not participate in any way in the programs of MSIA or ITS.
*A brief overview of ECKANKAR and MSIA can be found in J. Gorden Melton’s The Encyclopedia of American Religions, vol. 2 (McGrath, 1978) 232-233.